The Internet is probably the greatest purveyor of communication since the printing press. Thanks to that brilliant invention, the world is now virtually connected with the click of a mouse.
With such open pathways to information, it is my hope that we will see more freedom and greater innovation over the next several decades. Nowadays, more people are linking together than ever before. What possibly could go wrong?
Sadly, many things!
A few years ago, there was a young man who had over 300 virtual friends, but the truth of the matter was, he had few if any authentic friends.
Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or other social media platforms, people are constantly posting about their so-called perfect, well-connected lives.
The reality, however, is much different and striking, as many of us tend to embellish our lives and connections so as to please our voyeuristic society and make ourselves look more pristine than we actually are.
As one’s world may shrink a bit with age, it is most imperative for the 60-plus crowd to remain circumspect when taking in all of the photos and endearments posted on social media. In fact, I advise my clients, especially those whose lives are more topsy-turvy, to limit their viewings.
Not everyone has been blessed with generations of strong family connections. Consequently, they must explore other ways to be connected, especially when family or work is not present in their life.
The holidays can be extremely challenging in that department. So, what should you do? If you are a person of faith, you can seek out group activities with your church or temple. If you are not, there are other ways to connect.
One way is by providing service to others. Whether it be dishing out food to the homeless or volunteering in a place which may require your presence during the holidays, helping others can distract you from your own pain.
If you are in a setting such as an assisted living facility or other retirement association, join others for a community meal. When money is less of an issue, consider traveling to a place which also accommodates other solo travelers.
For example, cruises and health spas often provide programs or settings for the solo diner, especially during the holidays which can often be the most awkward time to be alone.
Although loneliness may be more palpable around Christmas and New Year’s, this feeling can also creep up throughout the year. The most important issue to address is staying active. If you don’t move forward, you will feel stuck and foment a slow but steady withering of the spirit.
As I mention in my book, Stop Depriving the World of You: A Guide for Getting UnStuck, you must examine your uniqueness and recognize it is never too late to overcome life’s obstacles, including loneliness.
People become increasingly wary and more risk-adverse as they age. Certainly, there are times in which this kind of attitude is appropriate, but more often than not, it can create unnecessary fear. For example, people need to continue to be curious.
In Walter Isaacson’s stupendous biography of Leonardo DaVinci, he writes about the fact that DaVinci was not a genius in the same way as Einstein. Instead, DaVinci’s curiosity was his genius. Consider, for instance, the many ways this genius used to explore life.
The virtue of courage must not be understated either. In order to live life fully, this virtue – which the brilliant Aristotle deemed to be the greatest – is often necessary to alter the course of your circumstances.
Courage is most needed when your current situation is not bearing the fruits of connection. Do not allow fear of rejection to stymie you. At this point in your life, who would really care if someone repudiates your outreach?
The sting will pass easier if you move along more readily. As I have said to many people, if a person does not reciprocate, why in the world would you want to be affiliated with them?
Along with curiosity and courage, creativity, the symbol for C which I used in my book, has merit even within the sexagenarian and older generation. We are created, and we create.
Creativity, in any of its forms, flows throughout our being over the course of our lifetime. Tap into yours as a way to connect with others. Consider taking a class or developing a hobby which has been your life-long dream.
Long ago, I had an older colleague who decided to finally become a poet. She and a group of others became connected through their love of verse. To my knowledge, this group stayed together for years. Each member took their love of poetry and used their curiosity, courage, and creativity to connect.
How much better can that be? Keep going and stay open because you never know when a fleeting opportunity will present itself.
How do you deal with loneliness? Have you tried specific methods to reach out to others? How were they received? Please share your experiences with battling loneliness and let’s all learn from each other.